Autumn in the Mountains

dsc_2541Fall is a great time of year–and not just because my birthday (pardon the pun)  falls on one of the first days of autumn.

While those fallen leaves are a nuisance for people who have trees in their yard–worse still, when the leaves come from neighbors’ trees–and have to rake them, there’s no question of the beauty of their colors. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the mountains of North Carolina.

But “Autumn in the Mountains” has a second meaning in North Carolina. One that’s special for me and a number of other people. It’s a retreat for Christian novelists.

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I just got home a couple of days ago, and I’m still glowing. We had great speakers and teachers; Steven James blew everyone away, as he always does. We had the chance to talk personally with some of our favorite authors–like DiAnn Mills. We also watched a great new movie, Heaven Bound that was co-written, co-produced, and co-starring our favorite funny faculty member, Torry Martin. That movie hasn’t even been released yet.

Colorful autumn leaves.

And we began each session with uplifting worship. Whether through music led by Janet Roller or a devotional by Debbie Presnell, we couldn’t help feeling we’d spent time with the Lord.

More autumn leaves.

And let me not fail to mention the wonderful fellowship among the conferees themselves. Although we had a lot of new ones this year, this is always a great place to reconnect with friends from all over the country. One thing non-Christians might find hard to believe is the way Christian authors support one another, even though in theory we’re competitors.

Those folks were among the most colorful of those autumn leaves.

Oh, and the food was pretty good, too, even though my gall bladder, which comes out this week, kept me from going whole-hog the way I usually do at these conferences.

Because this conference is limited to fifty attendees, it’s a very intimate time. Unlike its “big sister,” the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, in May, everything except meals takes place in Mountain Laurel, a small hotel with meeting rooms and a cozy auditorium. I can’t exaggerate what this conference has done to rejuvenate my enthusiasm for writing.

But you know what?

I couldn’t ignore the other kind of Autumn in the Mountains while I was there. The kind with all types of literal colorful leaves. I took several walks in the Prayer Garden and on the Nature Trail, where the fallen leaves were so thick it was hard to tell exactly where the trail was at times.

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Autumn is one of God’s most special creations. Especially in the mountains of North Carolina.

What about you? Do you like fall or is the approach of colder weather unappealing? Or does raking those leaves detract from your enjoyment of their beauty? How about leaving (leafing?) a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Two Different Kinds of Writing Conferences

My wife and I have spent most of this past week at a Novelist Retreat at the Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC.

Ridgecrest is a beautiful place, situated in the mountains. It’s like home to me, and no wonder. I don’t know how often I used to go there with my parents when I was a child. And then I worked on summer staff from 1967-1972. It’s where I met my first wife.

I returned several times during the 1990s to play guitar or bass on the praise team for the International Mission Conference. And then during the mid-2000s I started attending the BRMCWC (Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference).

The Novelist Retreat is a relatively new event. Just five or six years old, it was started by romance novelist Yvonne Lehman (pictured above), who lives just a few miles from Ridgecrest in Black Mountain. Yvonne had been the founder and director of the Blue Ridge Conference until turning that over to suspense and speculative novelist Alton Gansky.

He also writes military thrillers and non-fiction books. Some of you read my post about 60 People Who Shaped the Church; that’s one of his books.

Both conferences are for Christian writers and wanna-be authors. The BRMCWC hosts as many as 400-500 people who write everything from poetry to novels to greeting cards.  The Novelist Retreat is limited to 50 participants, all of whom have written, are writing, or want to write a novel.

Both conferences allow participants to schedule fifteen-minute appointments with the faculty. The Retreat, however, doesn’t ordinarily have agents and acquisition editors, the two most important kinds of people to help get writers’ manuscripts into print. The BRMCWC does, which helps to explain its popularity.

Both conferences hold a number of helpful classes, taught by top-notch writing professionals. And both have  outstanding keynote speakers. Past BRMCWC speakers include Fox news commentator Todd Starnes, Maj. Jeff Struecker, who was a key person in the real action the movie Black Hawk Down was based on, and Cecil Murphey, who co-authored the amazing best seller, 90 Minutes in Heaven.

 

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This year’s Retreat featured best-selling author Robert Whitlow.

 

 

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And up-and-coming actor, comedian, and author Torry Martin. Torry will be appearing in a Hallmark movie sometime around Thanksgiving.

 

 

I recommend both conferences. Highly.

If you’re a writer who’s serious about doing his best, you’ll never stop learning. And you’ll always be striving to do better. A writer never “arrives.” The struggle to have the next book published and do everything possible to help it sell never ends.

Perhaps you’re not a Christian writer. And perhaps the Christian elements of the two conferences at Ridgecrest wouldn’t appeal to you.

I understand.

But you would do well to research other writing conferences. Perhaps you’ll find one somewhere in your general area, one that’s not terribly expensive. You can Google “writing conferences” or check Writers Digest magazine.

What do you think? Have you ever attended a writing conference? Do you see the value of going to one? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger